Friday, January 21, 2011

Jackson's Show Debut

  Jackson had his show debut and what a great experience that was!  I didn't expect anything to come of the five days of shows, just experience for him and me.  His very first show in Fredericksburg, at the Northern Neck Kennel Club show, Jackson was Reserve Winners Dog!  The next day, at the same show, he was Winners for his very first point!  What a thrill for me to put the first point on him.
  The next two days (as blogged earlier!) didn't go as well but I was pleased with how Jackson was learning the routine and how well he adapted to new experiences.
  The Collie Club of Maryland specialty was another good day.  Jackson finished fourth in the Sweeps (earning six dollars in prize money!!!) and he continued to gain confidence each time he went into the ring.    After Sweeps, a highly regarded handler and a specialty judge came over to see Jackson.  She said she couldn't understand what the judges were missing that he wasn't placing higher.  The judge told me that Jackson has a real ring presence, then they both gave me some tips and assistance with my grooming.  A good friend who is a long time breeder also saw Jackson for the first time.  She told me he is the best we've produced so far.  It felt so good to have people appreciate our boy!  We haven't completely decided on a show schedule for Jackson, but I'm sure this will be an exciting journey as he works towards his championship!

Here we are at the Mason Dixon Specialty

Judge Mary Benjamin examines Jackson
Collie Club of Maryland Specialty

Sweeps Judging

Judge Mike Esch goes over Jackson

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Show Escapades

  Tomorrow, I'll blog about Jackson's results at the Fredericksburg shows and the Maryland Specialties but today, it's about the side of dog handling people don't normally see.  Actually, anyone who knows me, probably sees these things all too often!
  After two good days of showing, I was probably more than a bit over-confident that the final day in Fredericksburg would be successful and stress free.  Right off, I got shampoo in my eye during my early morning shower.  I should have seen that as a sign of things to come, but unfortunately, didn't.  The drive to Fredericksburg was event free and I arrived with time to spare--which I should have spent finding an easy parking space!  Instead, I took a close one amidst all the larger vans.  I pulled in at an odd angle which  left my rear bumper close to the van on my left.  I got out, took one load into the show building, then decided I really should straighten my vehicle.  I think I'm a good driver and can normally park in a straight line, but not that day.  I don't know what I was doing, but it wasn't moving the Sequoia over to the right, instead I kept getting closer to the van on my left.  I was so close, I had to move my mirror to prevent hitting the van!  Finally, I gave up and took Jackson inside.  With all my jerky attempts to fix my parking error, he was getting car sick!
  I asked Ellen if she was good at maneuvering a large vehicle in tight spots.  Instead, she knew who belonged to the van and took me to the owner.  He moved it forward as soon as he could, giving me some space to work and Ellen directed me while I fixed my parking errors.  (what would I do without Ellen???)
  Before I could move my vehicle, it was time to take Jackson into the ring.  The parking fiasco had unnerved me, but I was able to calm down, get Jackson brushed out and I was looking forward to handling him again.  Jackson, however, was on the wrong time table.  Waiting to go into the ring, he was antsy, then started barking.  Something was off, but I didn't know what it could be.  He didn't want to use the exercise pen when we arrived and refused a drink of water before he got off the grooming table.  In the ring, he was hard to handle, not paying attention and then moving too fast when gaited.
  While waiting to go back in for Winners, he started spinning in circles then squatted.  I didn't have time to get him back to the ex pen, asked the ring steward for a paper towel but then he acted like things were fine.  During the competition, though, I could tell he really needed to go.  It seemed like the judge took forever to make his decision!  I got Jackson out of the ring as quick as I could, then ran him to the inside exercise pen.  He didn't like the pen and refused to go.  I made a quick stop at our setup so I could grab my jacket to take him outside, but then Jackson decided he was thirsty and drank half of his bucket of water.  By the panicked look in his eyes, I could tell he still needed to get outside and we made it out the door just in time.
  I thought I had avoided disaster (well, except for the parking fiasco) and that the next day's show, the Mason Dixon Collie Club Specialty, would be just a fun day.  We took our equipment up the night before and I made sure Jackson had plenty of exercise time at home the morning of the show.  Once again, he refused to use the exercise areas at the show site, but I wasn't too concerned as I knew he had gone at home.
  During Sweepstakes,  Jackson was silly, wanting to romp and play.  He settled down for a nap in his crate during the Smooth competition.  I was told there was going to be a break between the Smooths and the Roughs, but instead, the judge went right to the Rough Dogs competition.  I had just awakened Jackson from his nap and was going to take him to the exercise area.  Instead, we were running to the ring, me grooming him along the way.  In the ring, he was nicely settled and I was relaxed.  We did our first go around and the dog ahead of us was being examined by the judge.  I looked at Jackson to make sure he was standing correctly--he was spinning in circles!  Suddenly, he started to squat!  Thankfully, someone at ringside gave me some paper towels which I was able to get in place to avoid a huge ring mess.  (I was complemented on my towel placement ability!)  Judging was suspended while Jackson was busy, but then he seemed to be distracted.  He was still squatting while looking at the ceiling, then the people ringside then the dog next to him.  How do you get a puppy to focus on the job at hand???  Finally, he was ready to show again, I apologized to the judge and we continued.  Surprisingly, he didn't place first in his class!
  All in all, it was a good set of shows for Jackson and excellent ring experience for me.  I learned a lot and am ready for the next shows at Howard County this week!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

First Win

  After going back and forth on how many puppies to take to the match, who it was going to be, the decision was pretty easy.  I couldn't show the puppies in Sweeps with their ears glued, or with braces, although I could in the regular match class as they were being entered "For Exhibit Only".  Ref's glue came loose on Friday and his ears were in good position so I decided only one puppy was going to the match.  Plus, after their vet visit on Friday, I had four slobbery, car sick puppies and didn't want to have to deal with four baths on Friday, then four spot clean ups at the match site.
  I took Jackson to the match, too, just to give him some exposure to a show site and noise.  There wasn't a lot of activity as the entry was quite small, probably due to the bit of snow we had this morning.  Jackson was very good, interested in the goings on and was quite relaxed.
  Ref settled in pretty quickly, too.  He showed pretty much as I expected, holding still for part of the exam, generally moving forward when I wanted him to.  He did stop a couple of times to scratch at his collar--it suddenly bothered him that he was wearing one.  Liz Manuel of Raebeth Collies was the Sweeps judge and she liked his chest and his expression.  Ref was Best in Sweeps!  He was also Ellen's pick for best smooth in the regular match class.  Not a hard decision, Ref was the only smooth collie at the match!
  For his efforts, Ref won some treats and two toys.  The treats were shared with Jackson, who also got some ring experience, even though he wasn't entered in the match.  Jackson wasn't intimidated by the ring mats or running a ring pattern.  He is a bit underweight though, and needs more development in his back legs to have proper movement and be a strong contender in competition.  I have entered him in his first shows this coming week.  I can get some weight on him pretty quickly, but with winter re-appearing, will probably not be able to get much conditioning done, if any.  Oh well, it will be good experience for Jackson just to go to the shows.

Monday, January 3, 2011

In Training

  I've started working with the puppies in preparation for a match offered by Mason Dixon Collie Club this Saturday.  They've all had some experience with walking on a leash, nail trimming and general grooming but now it's time to get serious!  Ref and Treasure had their sessions this morning.  Ears re-glued, nails trimmed by the dremmel, time on the grooming table, practice gaiting and stacking--with each accomplishment receiving lots of praise and cookies!  Ref did very well on the leash, didn't enjoy the table experiences so much.  Treasure was completely relaxed on the table but during the leash training kept flopping down on the floor and refused to try to gait.  She did much better on the leash when we were outside, walking back to the kennel.
  Tomorrow I'll work with Gemma and Bijou.  Gemma should be a snap to work with, she already got some experience when we took her to a show in November and quickly picked up on what was expected of her.  The rest of the week will be daily short sessions for each of the pups.  I hope I'll be able to take all four to the match.  It will depend on how the training goes and if I can recruit some help with handling.